The similarities between umiaks and dories is not accidental. They are two different cultures answer to the same question: how do I built a cheap, good workboat using local materials?
I took that similarity as my starting point when I built a flat-bottomed type of umiak with a student a few years ago. It made me want to see how the round-bottomed Swampscott dory type might do if it were crossed with umiak construction. A 12' 8" protoype based on a swampscott followed, and was a very sucessful boat. (Three person Umiak jpg.)
Now what I wanted was a high capacity boat, one that could go anywhere a kayak could, but with added range, speed , power, and comfort. I wanted a boat that was equally at home gunkholing, or making a long crossing, one that could move under oar, paddle, sail or power.
Sometime last winter I started sketching a 22 foot long umiak, that combined elements of Boston Power Dories and the sailing and rowing luggers of the English channel. I have been carting a 1940's vintage Palmer 6 H.P. One-lunger around for the past 15 years, and it seemed to be the natural power plant for my new vessel. A 150-200 square foot dipping lugsail seemed to be the way to supply both movement and romance, and so the heresey was complete - a beach crusing Umiak Motor sailer!
Dories, even the round sided ones, have flat bottoms. Adding this feature to a bent rib umiak might seem like a needless complication, but it served several purposes. The flat bottom is an excellent shape for beaching, and general utility. The chine-floor structure gives the builder another means of controlling hull shape -specififcally the curve of the midships section - and becomes a perfect base for engine beds and a mast step.
And finally, as a feature of the old pre-contact style boats, the chine and floors are a nice reminder of what came before.
This boat raises some interesting questions such as:
Obviously this just scratches the surface, there is a lot of food for thought here...